Shelly Skandrani

The Observer- on Yerma


From Spain to Ramat Gan 
Beit Zvi- School of Performing Arts presents: “Yerma”, written by Frederico Garcia Llorca.  Translation: Raphael Eliaz.  Director: Eti Resnik.  Set Design: Avi Shachvi.  Music: Efi Shoshan.  Choreography:  Gilad Kimhi.
“Yerma” (1934), is one of the most infamous plays of the Spanish playwright Frederico Garcia Llorca.  A true classic.  The backdrop is a typical Spanish agricultural farm.  The men go out to the fields, the women stay at home, cook, give birth to children and raise them.  Yerma is married to Juan, a marriage that is more a business related match between families than a love connection.  Yerma accepts her fate, but what might still compensate her for the lack of love and intimate relations are also missing; a child and motherhood, for which she yearns restlessly day after day.
On the other hand, her husband Juan, does not particularly desire becoming a father, he is satisfied, at least on the surface, as is.
The play does not answer the question of why the couple does not have children. Is it because Yerma is biologically infertile or is it more an infertility of the soul?  Perhaps a symbol of her destiny –as this relationship was not based on love in the first place.  As the plot thickens we learn that Yerma would have preferred another man from the village, Victor.  Formally, Juan and Yerma are husband and wife in every aspect, but regarding Juan, Yerma may not be divorced by marriage, yet is divorced by heart, as he too is emotionally divorced from her.  The relationship, which is problematic and fatal, as far as the relations between and man and a woman are concerned, provides another dimension to the woman’s infertility, one that is spiritual, irrational, and even psychological.
Fate is predetermined, the end is tragic.  And like all tragedies the end is foreseeable.  And by the way, one cannot avoid the obvious comparison between the world of Llorca’s heroes and the world of the Jewish culture, as it is said in the book of Zohar, which mentions the same difficulty in the intimate relations as a sign of an inappropriate match.
In the play there is a great use of contrasting elements and style; literature and poetry, reality and fantasy, a normal every day ambience and yet majestic sacrificial ceremonies.  The play is not an easy one to enact, and still even though it is performed by acting students, it is interesting and breathtaking.  In Llorca’s unconditional way, this play is brief and concise. Eti Resnik’s direction successfully conveys the distinctive style of the play – using the right rhythm, tone and atmosphere.  The transitions between the poetry and the prose could have perhaps at points used a slight sharpening.  The typical Spanish, Andelution view is somewhat missing in the set design, the music too needs more of a Spanish feel, but as said, we mustn’t forget  that this is an acting school play with understandable restrictions of location and setup.
The production is well cast and the acting is brilliant.   One must mention especially the acting of Adi Levi and Shlomi Tapiero in the roles of the two young men Juan and Victor.  Most importantly one must mark the actress Shelly Skandrani, in the role of Yerma, who exemplified sensitive, authentic and extremely convincing acting in terms of presence, voice and even movement.  And as I have already mentioned more than once, it seems that the creations of real interest in the Israeli Theater frequently occur at acting schools or even fringe theaters.
After the premier/ Ben Ami Feingold
Translated from Hebrew by Natalie Tal